Friday Feels // Vol. 1

Happy Friday, friends!

There are all sorts of “blog series” out there that bloggers do and while I’ve done them in the past, I typically don’t keep up with them very well. But alas, here I am with my own sort of “series” called Friday Feels in an effort to meet with you all here in this space at least weekly.

Blogging has long held my heart for several years and I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to step away from it. While I’ve been encouraged and inspired to post here more often in the past two months, I want to keep it up so this is my attempt at doing just that.

So on Fridays, I’ll be here sharing some things from the week. It will probably be an assortment of random things like blog posts I’ve read, Instagrammers I enjoy, things like that.

So, here we go…

I’ve had this essential oil diffuser in my bedroom for a couple months and I love it! It has different time settings or an option to diffuse continuously until the water runs out (it will turn off automatically when this happens). When I let it run continuously, it will run for nearly 8 hours which I think is pretty awesome! I just bought another one for my classroom!

This vulnerable and honest blog post on the infertility roller coaster from Ashten O’Malley is hitting me right in the feels today. I have followed her for awhile now and she has been pretty open about this heartbreaking journey. She also sells BeautyCounter products and uses the earnings to help fund the costs of their fertility journey so be sure to check that out as well!

Now that I am getting into the gym regularly, I have been obsessed with workout clothes! haha. Even though I know that no one is paying me any attention at the gym, I still like to feel comfortable. Lately, I have been obsessed with the high rise 7/8″ leggings from Old Navy Active as I just think they suit my height (I’m 5’10) better than crops or full-length leggings. I have these in both black and olive green and they are my favorites currently!

My latest food obsession has definitely been brussels sprouts, which has shocked just about everyone in my family – including me – since I have typically been a super picky eater when it comes to vegetables. But I’ve been loving them lately! My favorite way to make them lately is to cut up thick-cut bacon into smaller pieces and fry them until done and then toss shredded brussels into the bacon fat. Once they cook for a couple minutes I’ll drizzle in about a tablespoon or two of The New Primal’s Mustard BBQ sauce. SO GOOD.

Well, that’s it for this week – have a great weekend friends!

Hard + Holy

It’s been about three weeks of me consistently getting into the gym (and by consistently, I mean 2-3 times a week – baby steps people!) and I guess you could say I feel good about it. In all honestly, talking about fitness still makes me feel a little awkward and even more self-conscious than I normally do. I’m still working to get to the root of that because at the core of it – why should talking about something that is good feel so weird?

The work of nourishing and pushing our bodies isn’t just healthy – it’s holy. This work of pushing beyond our limits and nudging our bodies to do more than they’re accustomed to is hard and holy work. While we’ve given our lives to our Creator, we tend to do a terrible job of actually tending to His creation. From the environment to our bodies, we’ve proven ourselves as not being the best caretakers.

But this year, I’m doing my best to change this – at least in my own life.

Hard + Holy

I think this idea of viewing exercise and fitness as holy work comes from a few things I’ve had on my mind lately. It’s human nature to shy away from hard things. If it’s not fun or exciting or easy, odds are we just don’t want to do it. But so often, it’s in these hard moments that we can choose to start seeing it as an opportunity to lean in to God. An opportunity for worship, even.

There have been several moments in the midst of my training sessions where everything just starts to feel awful. I’m a sweaty mess, my once in-shape body is screaming at me to stop torturing it, and I’m certain that my trainer is out to get me (kidding obviously- he’s actually very nice!). It’s there, when we comes to the end of ourselves that the Lord does beautiful work. Because where we’re lacking, God isn’t. Where we aren’t strong enough, God is. And while it may seems silly to draw a connection between faith and fitness, the simple truth is that any circumstance that requires more strength than what we feel we possess is space for God to move.

A lot of my own issues with health and fitness, I think, stem from this nagging voice in my head that tries to tell me that I can’t do something. That I’m not strong enough to create, much less maintain, new habits. It’s consistently led me to the mistaken belief that I will fail before ever truly attempting. Battling the lies that have plagued us for years is hard work, friends, it is. But recently I heard something in a podcast that hasn’t left my head either. And it’s so good.

In Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters podcast (the episode titled, “She Believed She Couldn’t”), Lara speaks about her initial experience with her personal trainer in a early session. She shared about how everything in her body was screaming out that she couldn’t do what her trainer was having her do but then her trainer Ray looked her in the eye and simply said, “Decide. You. Can.”

Decide you can.

What a concept, friends. How many things in our lives would change in the light of those three words?

It seems simple. Three little words. But absolutely massive when you think of the implications. We decide that we actually can do the things that we think we can’t and then when things naturally get hard and difficult…ask God to step into the ring. Ask Him to fill in the gaps. Ask Him to provide the strength when ours runs out. Ask Him to pour out and overflow in the dry areas of our lives.

This road is hard, friends. But it is holy and so, so good.

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I am absolutely obsessed with all things buffalo. If a dish has buffalo sauce incorporated, odds are that I will try it and love it. And given that it’s Winter and temperatures around here are finally getting back down again (we had a brief warm-up recently), I’ve been craving some cozy soups lately.

I’m the first to admit to anyone that while I love cooking/baking and being in the kitchen – I am not a recipe developer. Creating recipes is not necessarily a strength, but I do know how to follow them. But with that being said – I actually did create this one! I borrowed some favorite components of other delicious soup recipes and threw this one together.

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I use rotisserie chicken!)
  • 2-3 medium sized russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can mild diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup hot Sauce (Frank’s Red Hot Original is my favorite!)
  • 1 T ghee
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Melt the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for about a minute. Add all remaining ingredients except the chicken. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are tender, add in the cooked chicken breast and stir to combine. Serve hot!

Beyond Measure

I suppose I’m a bit like everyone else out there when it comes to the approach of a new year. I get reflective – more reflective than usual, I mean – and I begin to ponder what the upcoming year is going to look like. The funny thing about that is that I know that the year is probably not going to end at all like what I envisioned in the beginning. I can look back to this these last few days of December over the past four or five years and I see the same pattern. And truth be told, 2019 is one of the first years that when I think ahead – I don’t really have a clear vision.

That’s not to say that I don’t have goals for this year or things that I’d like to work towards, because that’s not the case at all. These past few months have created a new sense of appreciation for detours and a beautiful acceptance in my heart. The road may diverge from where we think it is leading us, but the journey is good and holy and full of beautiful work.

From 2014-early 2018, I was in this season of preparation where I truly felt so in tune with what I felt like God was asking me to step into that I never even considered that possibility that He might change the plans on me. And when He did? Well, that’s how I ended up here. In a city that I’d once prayed that He would send me to but never did. In a job that I’ve spent five years thinking I’d be leaving.

I began 2018 believing that I was going to end up in Central Illinois for grad school and I’m ended it here in Central North Carolina. As Annie F. Downs writes in her most recent book, Remember God, “sometimes when you’re following God, even doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing can still land you in the wrong spot. Or at least not get you where you wanted to go. And yet sometimes, those are the best stories He tells. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. True for me.”

And for me.

As I sit here now, on day three of a new year, I do not believe that I landed in the wrong spot. Different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But those words that Annie wrote in her book, this book that reached me at the perfect time, are certainly true for me. My walk with God is full of stories of Him using detours and heartbreak to create something hopeful and it gives me all the feels.

Life today looks differently than what I thought it would a year ago. And I will probably be saying the same thing this time next year. But today I’m crazy grateful for our God who consistently gives beyond measure and who chooses answers years-old prayers instead of my newer ones.

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